By: Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy
The Oakville Chamber was pleased to host Anne McLennan and Lisa Raitt, Co-Chairs of the Coalition for a Better Future at a recent luncheon event. The Coalition, launched in 2021 believes that collaboration and partnership between government of all levels, the private sector and civil society will be key to achieving a more inclusive, sustainable, and prosperous Canada.
Ms McLennan & Raitt were joined on stage by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s (CCC) President, Perrin Beatty who moderated the discussion on planning for economic growth which is a mutual priority of the two organizations and further, the CCC’s President sits on the Coalition’s Advisory Council.
Sound familiar? The CCC has been calling on the federal government to set a clear strategy for growth since before the pandemic and that’s what this session was all about. An important discussion about the future of our country, assessing Canada’s ability to achieve prosperity and about identifying the challenges that face us and the opportunities we can seize.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, our international competitors continue to outpace us as Canada experiences extremely low growth. And achieving competitive levels of economic growth, a clean climate, and equal opportunity for all Canadians aren’t mutually exclusive, but mutually dependent. To achieve these goals we need government to eliminate the disincentives that drive away investment and focus on pro-business policies for the benefit of all Canadians.
The Coalition’s recent Scorecard Report highlights the urgent need for Canada to take action on a variety of fronts to ensure Canada is winning globally, living better, and growing sustainably. That includes raising living standards, reducing poverty, addressing rural-urban divides, advancing inclusivity, attracting investment, and scaling up in the areas of bioscience, advanced manufacturing, cleantech, agri-food and digital.
They noted that Canada’s economy faces many headwinds. This includes an aging population, weak business investment and poor productivity as well as an average annual rate of economic growth that has been slowing for decades. Additionally, the pandemic created new challenges, disproportionately impacting lower income Canadians and driving up public debt levels.
Perrin remarked that currently, Canada needs skilled and specialized talent to fill 400,000 new jobs in growing and evolving fields, such as clean energy, tech, and advanced manufacturing, with over three million Canadian jobs set to be disrupted in the next decade as the country transitions toward a net zero economy. Threatening this transition is our supply chains, which are nearing a breaking point as nearly a quarter of businesses say they are struggling to get the goods they need, putting operations and growth – including green growth – at risk.
Also, undermining our ability to adapt is a lack of innovation, with the Conference Board of Canada’s Innovation Report Card ranking us 11th out of 16 peer countries. These realities should be seen as a call to action given that in the aftermath of the pandemic, our international competitors continue to outpace us. The decisions we make in 2023 will determine our ability to respond to the next great, global health crisis, climate emergency, and growing social polarization driven by inequality and lack of opportunity.
Nevertheless, this coalition refuses to accept that slow growth and stagnation are inevitable. Canadians have choices. By choosing as a country to make economic growth a policy priority, we can strengthen the foundations of Canadian society and create the wealth necessary to fund and enhance the social programs and public services on which we all depend.